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03/18 2011

During Cutbacks — Don’t Neglect the Survivors!

During times of staff cutbacks, managers frequently spend too much time tending to the mechanics of the layoff process itself — and, in turn, fail to spend enough time or attention on the surviving talent in the organization.

As detailed by former General Electric VP of HR Bill Conaty in his upcoming book “The Talent Masters”, organizations that successfully manage staff cutbacks deal with laid-off employees in a humane and ethical manner — and offer services such as career transition centers, training opportunities, and fair financial separation terms.   However, successful firms don’t stop there — they also take active steps to ensure that they focus equal attention to the employees who do remain…

During times of lay-offs, financial rewards for existing employees are not an option for improving motivation or morale.   Instead, having management simply recognize the accomplishments of existing employees, and outwardly letting them know that they are valuable team members can go a long way towards keeping motivation and loyalty at a solid level.

In addition, Conaty points-out that during times of cutbacks and layoffs, managers frequently clam-up and become less communicative, figuring that they do not have answers for the difficult questions posed by employees.  Conaty stresses the need for a “personal touch” during these times, not only to increase the likelihood of individual employees feeling that the company has a future, but also as a way of allowing the manager to get unfiltered information from employees, which can help turn down the rumor mill and dispel any unnecessary worries.

Conaty strongly feels that organizations who successfully manage the lay-off process — specifically, dealing compassionately with those who have been laid-off, while also investing time and energy into those employees who remain — will be in the best position to retain (and ultimately attract) world-class talent. 

With many HR minds anticipating the “talent churn” that will be occurring once our economy straightens-out, Conady’s words of advice — particularly about taking steps to increase employee retention —  should resonate with organizations everywhere.

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